Thursday, November 22, 2012

It's About the Journey, not the Destination apparently

The sheer number of amazing places in south France never fails to amaze us.  On Tuesday we thought we might visit Sarlat as well as one of the most beautiful villages in France - La Roque-Gageac about 45 minutes away.  

On the way we stopped at Domme, known as the Acropolis of the Dordogne.  From the walkway beside the ramparts we had a spectacular view of the Dordogne River Valley.
You enter the city through one of two gates from the 12th c. and the one below was most impressive even if a bit crumbly. The round towers were converted to prisons to hold the Knights Templar that were arrested by the king in 1307.  They really made things to last in those days!
Just a few kilometers down the road was La Roque-Gageac and it was apparent why it was on the list of most beautiful villages in France. Wedged between the river and a steep limestone cliff, this village actually had about 3 narrow roads you could climb up, with homes partially build into the cliffs. The road going through town was entirely blocked off from car traffic as it looked like they might be working on the wall between the river and the road.  As well, the entire town seemed deserted much like the other towns we visited. At least there were none of those pesky tourists to deal with!
Built into the cliffs above the town were the remnants of the troglodyte caves. I think you might be able to explore them during the summer but it was unclear.  In 1957 a chunk of rock fell off the cliff face and killed three residents.  I think it's on the left part of the cliff face in the photo above.
Because the entire road through town was blocked off we worked our way through some extremely narrow roads and around the back of the cliff towards a chateau we'd seen on the map.  Again, the words 'perched high on a cliff' seem redundant as they describe almost all the chateaux here. Château de Castelnaud, a medieval fortress, had displays of weaponry from different eras including several trebuchets - one is visible on the top in the photo.  The entire fortress was well preserved/restored. The setting sun also highlighted the beautiful honey-golden colour of the buildings in this region.
With a chill in the air as the sun started to go down, we began the short trip home, realizing that we never managed to reach our destination of Sarlat.  Too many amazing distractions along the way.

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